One evening after a long day of work, I needed an escape. While most people go to happy hour, I needed something a bit more substantive that wouldn’t leave me with a hangover the next day. So, I walked into Sel et Poivre, a bistro on the Upper East Side with updated French fare and a carefully curated complimentary wine list. The restaurant has been around for 27 years (an eon in the NYC restaurant scene) so it was sure to be a delight.
Sel et Poivre has an intimate, romantic ambiance and seats up to 65 people. I was fortunate enough to grab a table in the back without a reservation, which is preferred. Service was attentive and swift, which was great because I was starving after speed walking more than 20 blocks uptown!
In a gluttonous move, I started with two appetizers. The first was celery root remoulade with red beets. Remoulade, an aioli-based sauce, covered the fresh crunchy celery roots which were placed atop cubed beets. While I detest beets, I ate the entire plate before I realized it. The celery roots, covered in sauce juxtaposed with the softness of bittersweet beets, were an adventurous delight for my taste buds. This dish isn’t for everyone and usually it wouldn’t be my first choice but I needed to switch it up and I’m glad I did. The fish soup however is a dish I would normally choose. The soup, which was flavorful and creamy in its own right, also came with crostini with a garlic spread and sprinkled parmesan. The garlic and cheese crostini added texture and elevated the subtle flavor of the soup.
Next up, the entrée; my favorite dish. I was still hungry so I sampled a variety of dishes. I started with the leg of lamb with haricot verts. The lamb was tender and juicy, haricot verts crunchy, and potatoes flavorful with roasted herbs and drizzled with gravy. The standout entrée however was the aged New York sirloin steak with poivre (pepper) sauce paired with Cotes du Rhone. The medium steak was draped with peppercorn adding tenderness and elevating the flavor with spice. Days later I’m still thinking about that delicious, juicy steak.
Finally, dessert was served. The profiteroles, while too sweet for my palette, are a sweet tooth’s dream. The puffs were filled with ice cream and covered with a chocolate drizzle and nuts which added crunch and texture to an otherwise soft and decadent meal. My favorite dessert and a preferred dish for those who can’t take sweet dishes, is the tarte aux fruit. The tarte’s crust was crisp and crunchy filled with a soft, zesty custard and fresh berries.
This small intimate uptown bistro is recommended for those seeking classic French cuisine in a low-key causal environment. Knowledgeable staff and great service are an added bonus. Bon appétit!
Preferred Dishes: Fish Soup, Sirloin Steak with Poivre Sauce, Tarte aux Fruit
Address: 853 Lexington Ave., New York, NY
Noon – 4pm, Monday – Friday
4pm – 10:30pm, Monday – Thursday
4pm – 11pm, Friday – Saturday
4pm – 10pm, Sunday
Noon – 4pm, Saturday – Sunday